Materialism Without Matter: Abstraction, Absence and Social Form

Toscano, Alberto. 2014. Materialism Without Matter: Abstraction, Absence and Social Form. Textual Practice, 28(7), pp. 1221-1240. ISSN 0950-236X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

In light of the contemporary theoretical infatuation with ‘new’ materialisms, matter and materiality, this essay revisits the heterodox Marxian thesis according to which materialism may, in Étienne Balibar's formulation, have ‘nothing to do with a reference to matter’. The article explores variants of this materialism without matter: Antonio Gramsci's objections to Bukharin's ‘Marxist sociology’, Theodor W. Adorno and Alfred Sohn-Rethel's critiques of epistemology, and Isaak Illich Rubin's elucidation of the categories of Marx's value-analysis. It foregrounds a shift in this counter-intuitive materialism from subjective praxis to the categories of capital, in which ‘not one atom of matter enters’ (Marx). This recovery of an understanding of materialism as the critical analysis of real, social abstractions concludes with a reconsideration of Louis Althusser's ‘aesthetic’ reflections on the materialism of absence, as featured in his philosophical appreciation of the paintings of Leonardo Cremonini.

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12 September 2014Accepted
27 November 2014Published

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08 Nov 2017 16:03

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08 Nov 2017 16:03

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